Do you need help changing your mindset?

Mindset is a word I hadn’t really encountered until I was an adult. I wondered whether it was just that it isn’t something children discuss or really need to understand. But upon research I discovered that actually it wasn’t a word used until the 1990’s, when Carol Dweck used the word in a publication. I was, pretty much, an adult by the 90’s, so that explained that.

What is mindset? 

The Oxford English Dictionary defines mindset as the established set of attitudes held by someone”. We often talk about fixed mindsets and growth mindsets in education. These are, in brief, a belief that we have an inability to learn or change attitudes or, conversely, a growth mindset is about developing your ability to learn from mistakes and believe that you can become more intelligent or skilled. 

When I was at school it was believed that once your brain had formed and you had set certain neurological pathways up as your go to approach or attitude to something, that was it, you couldn’t change it. We have now discovered a wonderful thing called neuroplasticity. We know that it is possible to reroute those messages and alter our reactions. It takes practice and consistency to rewire our brains but it is possible.

This is great news!

It means that we no longer have to blame our ancestors for our pessimism, or lack of drive. We can now learn to be happy, to be calm to be more motivated and driven. Whatever we want to do is possible if we put in the effort.

It is never a quick fix but often there are simple, easily repeatable exercises which over time help our brains to respond differently to situations and triggers and achieve the results we want.

So, if you respond to feeling anxious or worried by being short tempered with the people around you, you can, over time, learn to respond in a more positive way, and learn to eliminate the feelings of anxiety, or at least deal with them quickly and easily.

Sounds simple doesn’t it?

Well, no it isn’t, but anything worth doing takes time and effort.

Imagine the impact feeling calm and confident all the time would have on your life, your family, and your business. 

What if you knew how to react, and what do to quiet that inner voice every time imposter syndrome raised its ugly head?

Imagine no more! My new workbook and MP3 pack, Change your Mindset and Become the Force, can help you to do just that.

It won’t happen over night, although you should see immediate improvement, but over time, by listening to the meditations and practicing the exercises in the workbook you will slowly change your automatic responses to these, often crippling, stories you are telling yourself.

Read more about this programme before you decide.

Are you ready to change your mindset?

 

I’m ready!

The Meaning of Life

Today I am “the answer to life, the universe and everything” according to Douglas Adams. 

I have never had an issue with with birthdays. Age is just a number as far as I’m concerned, and I really mean it. I genuinely feel blessed to be alive and to have reached another birthday.

It may sound like a cliche but it’s true.

As you may know there was a time when that wasn’t guaranteed (not that it ever is!). 11 years ago I was led to believe that my life now would be very different; constant unbearable pain, physically deformed, no energy and unable to have any more children.

Instead I am happy, my condition is under control, I am back to looking like myself and I have my beautiful, almost 10 year old son. 

Today, as I turn 42, I am feeling more grateful than I have ever felt in my life.

My children are happy, healthy, amazing mini-humans who not only saved their pocket money to buy me thoughtful presents from Harry Potter Studios, but made their own card and made the most delicious brunch.

My husband had a clock that we fell in love with when we visited Italy recently sent over for my present. My friends and family have really been there for me during what has been a rollercoaster 24hrs. I had my injection yesterday, we went to see Mamma Mia: Here I go again and I laughed til I cried and cried because I was heartbroken, I found out some devastating news and my family and friends said and did some truly incredible things to support both me and one of my closest friends and her family at a very difficult time.

I cried tears of sadness and tears of joy within moments, not just once, but all day.

As we get older it is easy to focus on the negatives.

Society encourages it.

The wrinkles we are led to believe are bad. The grey hairs we are encouraged to colour in. We are constantly told that youth is good and age is bad.

Why?

What is so wrong with getting older? We all get older.

Would you want to go back to having the experiences you were having when you were in your teens?

Believing the things you believed?

Feeling the insecurities you felt?

I wouldn’t!

Given a choice between having the body I had then and the experiences and emotions I had then and being me as I am now, wrinkles, stretch marks, grey hairs and all, I know what I would choose. I feel honoured to be growing older. I love that I have 40+years of experiences, knowledge and memories to look back over.

There is no size 12, wrinkle free, body that can top the wisdom and memories of 20 years of life. 

 

I don’t agree with George Carlin, I don’t think he does either for the record, I think age is a very small price to pay for wisdom.

Wisdom is something to be treasured.

Age is something to be cherished. 

“Age is a hell of a price to pay for wisdom”

George Carlin

Comedian

As we take steps along this journey, we are all ultimately heading for the same destination, which ever road we take.

I have been fortunate enough to have some wonderful companions on my journey.

I have also experienced the heartbreak of losing friends and family members for as long as I can remember. Not just people older than me. People who completed their journey way too soon. Friends who left us before the even finished school. Family members who should have had many more years of memory making.

I was nearly added to that number. I am acutely aware that my journey could have been much shorter and much less enjoyable.

I make an effort every single day to find at least 10 things I am grateful for. I have a little pile of notebooks next to my bed where I have written my daily gratitude every day for years now.

“Today I am grateful for… I am glad I… I am thankful for…”.

Some days it’s a struggle. Some days it feels impossible and other days it is easy and I write twenty. I make the effort to do it every day thought remind myself how lucky I am.

My birthday is always a day for counting my blessings.

Today is no exception. I am thankful for the amazing people in my life. For the opportunities I am given. For the places I have seen the experiences I have had and I am grateful for you.

Yes you.

I am grateful that you have taken the time to read my inner babblings. That you have found my website and decided to delve deeper. That you are taking time to get to know me better. Thank you.

I may not actually be the answer to life, the universe and everything but I hope you have taken something away from reading this. 

I hope you have a wonderful day.

 

 

Does your lack of self belief hold you back?

Self belief is something I have struggled with throughout my life. I have never believed that I was as good as everyone else. Always felt that I had to prove myself more than others. Always needed a certificate to tell me I was capable of doing something new.  

It took my many years to realise that some skills can’t be taught and some skills we come pre-loaded with. No-one taught me how to be a teacher. yes I spent 4 years doing a degree so that I had the qualification I needed , but I was born with the ability to teach. Teaching is such an intrinsic part of who I am that I can’t not teach. When I spend time with children I can’t help guiding their experiences so that they learn something new. Even when I spend time with adults I love passing on knowledge I have gleaned from something I have read or heard that might be of interest.

I thought everyone could teach. I genuinely did. Then I went on some training courses when I started learning holistic therapies and realised that not everyone can teach!

I sat through a three day course where having been given a beautifully printed workbook the “teacher” hopped from page 52 to page 3 then page 87 and back to page 12, while writing in virtually illegible writing up the edges of a flip chart and talking in a monotonous voice.

At that point I had an epiphany!

Teaching is one of my superpowers.

This person was clearly making a good living delivering training and yet they were disorganised, there was no flow to the sessions and even as a sympathetic and interested student I was bored and knew I wasn’t taking as much information in as I wanted to. This person was teaching adults. In a classroom full of children or teenagers they would have been eaten alive.

For years I had allowed my inner voice to prevent me from taking chances, from putting myself out there and taking on new challenges because my inner critic would shout: “Who do you think you are? Do you really think you could do that? Other people can do that but you can’t” 

Since that day I have acknowledged that my ability to impart wisdom is a gift, and probably my most valuable skill. I allow myself to say out loud that I am a teacher and a good teacher, for years I saw this as a job description, but it is so much more than that.

I have also realised that it isn’t my only super power. I have loads!

Do I always radiate self belief? No.

Do I sometimes allow self doubt to flood my body and paralyse me? Occasionally, but not very often these days.

Am I making progress every day? Oh yes!

Every single day I try to make myself do something I think I can’t do. Whether it is digging the garden when I know I’m tired or saying yes to a business opportunity that scares me, I make myself do it and prove to myself that I can.

The Yes Woman!

Do you remember Danny Wallace’s project (and subsequent book and film) “The Yes Man”. “Wallace vowed to say yes to every offer, invitation, challenge, and chance” (credit: Amazon.co.uk). This one change totally transformed his life. I may not be in a position to say yes to every opportunity, I have my family to consider, but I decided a few years ago that I would say yes to every business offer that came my way and work out how to make it happen after. It has brought so many amazing opportunities into my life. 

Like so many things, self belief is something that only you can change. 

You have to make a decision to change, to start believing in your own ability more, no-one can do it for you. Click To Tweet

It isn’t easy and there certainly isn’t a quick fix.

“Believe in your infinite potential. Your only limitations are those you set upon yourself.”

Roy T. Bennett

Author, The Light in the Heart

What can you do to improve your self belief?

Use your Superpowers

My superpowers are teaching, learning, caring and overcoming adversity. These are just the first few that popped into my head, I know now that I have many more. Sit and think about what your superpowers are, make a list of all your gifts. If you genuinely can’t think of any, ask someone you trust, they will tell you in a heartbeat. 

Use power poses

Power poses have been proven to make you act and feel more confident. Standing with your shoulders back and your head high automatically makes you feel more confident.

Use Visualisation

See yourself looking and feeling confident in your minds eye. Close your eyes, picture a situation that you find intimidating and see yourself looking happy, calm and confident. Keep using the same visualisation until you believe that it can be no other way.

Do one thing that scares you every day?

It doesn’t have to be something big. It might be that you don’t like using the phone and you make yourself ring the dentist. You might not like being in busy places and decide to go to a shopping centre. Perhaps you are scared of driving in unfamiliar areas, make yourself take a trip somewhere new. Whatever it is for you, just do something little every day. Flex your self confidence muscles.

Challenge your inner voice

We all have an inner critic who tells us we can’t do things, and makes us doubt our ability. However much that inner critic thinks it is helping us, it is often holding us back. Evolution taught us to be wary of situations that have caused us to be scared or anxious as a way of keeping us safe, most of the things we are scared of now are not physically dangerous though so we need to find ways to shut that inner voice up. The quickest way I have found is to question what the voice is saying; Is this true? Is it definitely true? How do I know? Can I prove it? Really challenge your inner voice and make it prove itself.

Read about others who have built their self belief

There is no better teacher than someone who has experienced what you are going through. The reason I teach relaxation and mindfulness is because I suffered from crippling anxiety in my late teens and early twenties then went on to suffer from depression when I started teaching. I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through without strategies and support. By learning about other people who have overcome the challenges you face it enables you to learn from them and also reminds you that it is possible. A quick search on Amazon will bring up lots of self belief books, choose one that looks appealing.

Be kind to yourself

It is so important not to beat yourself up for feeling self doubt because that isn’t helpful. Challenge yourself and reward yourself for taking baby steps in the right direction. If you don’t achieve your target, take a deep breath and decide to do it tomorrow. Make time to relax and look after yourself. If you aren’t getting enough rest you can’t function at the level you need to to make real progress. 

Final word

The most important thing to remember is that nothing is permanent. Nothing. You can change anything if you decide you want to. Making that choice is the hardest part, if you are reading this, you’ve already taken that step.

 

 

 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click the link and buy the product/service associated I will receive a small payment in return. The product/service will not cost you any more. I never recommend anything I have not experienced myself. I always appreciate any purchases made using my links as they enable me to continue writing and helping more people. Find out more in my Terms of Service.

Being Mindful in a Crisis

There are times when life really challenges us. When it asks us to use every drop of strength and courage we have to cope with a situation or crisis. 

Whether it is a short term upheaval like an accident or a long term challenge such as a bereavement, we have to gather all our tools, all our strength and find a way to get through.

If you are above school age, chances are life has challenged you at some point. It may have been the loss of a loved or beloved pet. It may have been a serious illness you had to battle against. Perhaps you lost your job and been worried about your financial future and security.

Whatever challenges life has thrown at you, you have survived. I know that because you are reading this.

Why am I mentioning this?

Well, this weekend my family had their coping strategies challenged and it was fascinating watching the range of responses to the situation.

 

To give you some background we were having a day out; my husband and children, my parents, my sister and her family and her in laws. Everyone was having a lovely time, enjoying the weather and each other’s company when something happened which changed the entire course of the day.

There was an accident involving one of the children. I feel able to talk about this now because they are ok, but I won’t go into details.

Everyone present loves that little bundle of joy so much, and we are all equally besotted with her.

The range of reactions was interesting though.

The parents jumped into action and doing what needed to be done along with one grandparent who was driving – the rest of us had walked. The remaining adults comforted the children and each other. There was a brief period of panic and, in some cases, hysteria and then there was nothing further we could do. 

Some of the adults, and older children, were clearly reliving the experience and trying to predict the outcome – impossible.

The youngest child, once recovered from the drama, carried on as normal, playing, chatting and eating ice lollies. 

The remaining adults, for a variety of reasons, just carried on until there was news and something to be done, practically to help.

This is the very essence of mindfulness.

Living in the moment. Reacting to what is happening, not what we imagine might happen. 

When life challenges us it is easy to get lost in a sea of “what ifs” and “if onlys” but it is only what we can do differently now that matters.

Even at the most desperate times we always have a choice about what we think and how we react.

We could have chosen to abandon the day out and sit panicking in a tea room somewhere but we chose to entertain the children and keep ourselves busy to pass the time until there was more news.

Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor

Thich Nhat Nanh

Author

Passing the time and focusing on what we could change was the only option we had. The children were already upset and distraction is a powerful tool for young minds.

It is important that when life presents us with obstacles and situations to deal with which feel like they might break us, that we take a deep breath and use that time to make some choices. We can choose to be a victim of circumstance or we can choose to be the captain of our own ship.

Even at the most challenging moments we can ask ourselves; what is the most beneficial thing I can do for myself right now? It may be to have a cup of sweet tea and a piece of cake (we did that on Saturday too!), sometimes that is enough to steady our nerves and give us the energy to carry on. It may be to create an action plan to get us out of the crisis we have found ourselves in. Or it may be to sit in self care; have a bath, go for a run, treat ourselves to whatever our soul needs right now.

Life is precious and if we don't live every minute as though we mean it, we're wasting the most valuable commodity we have, time. Click To Tweet

When we take time to breath and really think about what the best course of action is, we can amaze ourselves with the resilience and strength we have within us. We all have it, we just have to find it and mindfulness is a great map to help us find it.

 

What do I mean by mindfulness?

Well, I have already said that in essence it is just being present but I appreciate that that is an abstract concept. Why not try this easy mindful breathing exercise next time you are under pressure.

 

Calming breath

Close your eyes and relax your shoulders.

Take a deep breath in through your nose and feel the breath entering your nose. Does it feel warm or cold? Did you feel your breath anywhere else as you took the breath in, maybe the back of your throat or your chest?

As you breathe out pay attention to your breath again.

This time as you breathe in imagine the air entering your body is a beautiful calming blue and it makes you feel so relaxed as it enters your body.

When you breathe out imagine that calming blue breath is removing any stress and tension from your body.

Repeat this 3-5 times or as many as you need to begin to feel more calm and relaxed. 

 

The Restorative Benefits of Nature

This is not what I was intending to write about today but after three days of glorious sunshine I couldn’t resist basking in the beauty of nature for just a little longer.

It was May Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK this weekend and miraculously the weather has been amazing! The sun has shone for three days straight. There hasn’t been a cloud in the sky, the birds have sung and the shops sold out of ice cream and barbecue food.

We have had my sister and her children staying for the weekend, escaping their building work and we have made the most of every minute of sunshine. We have spent time at the park, been for a walk and a picnic on Cannock Chase (a beautiful woodland), had another picnic and a walk at Stafford Castle and spent time in the garden.

 

 

 The benefits of being out in nature 

I’m sure I don’t need to tell any of you how lovely it is to be outside in the sunshine. The healing properties of that big ball of gas in the sky are powerful indeed. My children and I were discussing the fact that just the smell of suncream puts us in a good mood because you know that if you need suncream then it’s a beautiful day.  There are so many smells of spring sunshine; blossom on the trees, fresh cut grass, barbecue smoke and washing on the line.

Then there are colours. The bright green of new foliage, the blue of the sky, the pink and white of blossom on the trees. The feel of the breeze on your skin, the sound of the birds in the trees, lawnmowers buzzing and of children playing. The senses are truly brought to life in this weather. 

The science bit…

It isn’t just the mindful, sensory experience of being in nature that is so beneficial though – although that is wonderful for our well being. There are sound medical and scientific reasons why being in nature is beneficial too.

When we visit the seaside the air is full of negative ions, which despite how it sounds is really beneficial in helping us feel more positive.

When we spend time in trees we feel happier, the air is cleaner because the trees are natures air purifiers, the green colour is even believed to make you live longer, trees are natural healers.  

When we go paddling the pebbles massage our feet and the water cools and washes them. Our feet feel instantly revived.

Just to add to the list of benefits, when we spend time outdoors we aren’t inside staring at a screen, we are usually walking or paddling or playing. 

You don’t really need me to tell you that being in nature is good for you though do you?

You only need to do it, to feel it, to remember it to know that its calming, magical powers can take away even the heaviest of burdens and make you feel calm and happy again. If you are fortunate enough for that time in nature to be with loved ones then the benefits are ten fold. 

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks”

John Muir

American Naturalist and Author

When was the last time you took time to be in nature? To sit and relax in the garden, to walk through the woods, to paddle in a stream or in the sea?

If you can’t remember, then it’s time to get out there again. Go for a walk during your lunch break, walk to the shop instead of driving. Take time to visit your favourite garden, woodland or seaside spot. Your body and your well being will be glad you did.

 

5 Mindful Minutes

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